As a parent, you are very attuned to your child’s emotions; when they are sad, it breaks your heart! One of the most challenging moments in parenthood is listening to your child cry when you leave them. Whether you are leaving them with a family member, or dropping them off at daycare, their sadness makes you want to turn right around and stay with them. Learning to ease their separation anxiety will make these moments less stressful, and sad, for you and your child.
What is Separation Anxiety?
Separation anxiety is when your child becomes anxious when you are not around them. It is developmentally appropriate, and peaks around the age of 8 to 14 months, and lasts until around 2.
How to Ease a Child’s Separation Anxiety
1. Make goodbyes quick – Just as you are attuned to your child’s emotions, your child is attuned to yours as well. Lingering might communicate to your child that you are also anxious about the separation. Quick goodbyes communicate confidence and provide a sense of security.
2. Acknowledge their feelings – Talk with them about how they feel. Even if your child cannot fully communicate their feelings, helping them to label how they feel and reassuring them that their feelings are valid will alleviate their stress.
3. Follow routines – If a child knows what to expect, it fosters a sense of security and safety. In the morning, if you have a goodbye ritual it will help them feel less anxiety when you leave.
4. Practice socializing – Plan playdates, and short visits with family. Once your child learns that they are safe and that you will be back for them, they will feel more confident.
5. Keep calm – Again, your emotions impact your child. Staying calm allows them to feel confident and secure.
You are your child’s safe place, and when you are not around they miss that feeling. By using the strategies above, you will help ease their separation anxiety and show them how confident and strong they are!